They come up to each car, press
their dusty faces against glass, palms
outstretched in the universal sign of
supplication. A girl no older than 10
carries a toddler astride one hip.
His belly hangs like a balloon
distended with water, over the edge
of a makeshift diaper. Her other hand offers
strings of rice seed and jasmine, cream
streaked with taint of sewer water. How
do such flowers grow and still flood
the air with unbearable fragrance?
The streets slice open, lane dividers
white as the fat quilting a pig's
stomach. It's here we press
ourselves into the seams of the machine,
here where we spill our guts daily, borne
by a tide that some of us will breach
and those of us lacking in strength
will go under, mouths open; and oil-
slicked waters conduct us from this world.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.